Community advocate Richard Pridham dies at 84

DOWNEY - Richard Pridham, a longtime Downey resident and outspoken community advocate who offered solutions to various city problems, has died. He was 84.After battling with an aggressive form of skin cancer, Pridham died on July 30 surrounded by members of his family. Born and raised in Southern California, Pridham lived a passionate life, filled with adventure and exploration. In 1943, at age 19, Pridham joined the army and was stationed in Germany where he worked as a telecommunications operator connecting military bases by telephone. After returning home from the war, Pridham kept in contact with many of the people he met while serving in Germany. Later in life, Pridham made regular trips to Europe to visit the friends he made in Germany. Pridham's granddaughter, Nikki, remembers his frequent visits. "We've counted at least 10 trips to Europe that he's made," said Pridham, 19. "He and my grandmother would go for 3 to 5 months at a time." In addition to Pridham's European vacations, he also traveled extensively through Baja Mexico, where he would fish, camp and strike up conversations with natives. Pridham also regularly visited the San Joaquin Valley where he would pick apples, grapes, persimmons and other crops during the harvest season. Pridham and his wife Ann settled in Los Angeles before moving to Downey in 1966. Pridham worked for Pacific Bell for many years before retiring at age 57. Concerned about the state of the city, Pridham attended city council meetings regularly, bringing up problems he saw around town. "We moved to Downey for the schools," said Jenny Pridham, Richard's eldest daughter, who still lives in Downey. "He wanted to make sure the city stayed as good as it was when we moved here." Jenny Pridham, 56, considers her father an ethical and fair-minded man who wanted to know more about everything. "It didn't matter what subject - he just wanted to learn," said Jenny Pridham. "He wasn't a TV watcher. He wanted to see as much as he could see, and learn as much as he could learn." City Councilman Roger Brossmer recalls Pridham's faithful attendance to city council meetings as well as his distinct voice. "He had the best voice in Downey - I would tell him, I think you missed your calling as a talk show host," Brossmer said. "He cared a lot about this city. It's easy to complain and do nothing, but he took that extra step and did something." Pridham's concerns would usually involve issues of public works such as street lights that had not been fixed, graffiti on buildings and dire road conditions. "Whatever he saw, he shared in a respectful manner," Brossmer said. "He didn't just complain - he always brought a list of solutions." Pridham was one of the first residents that City Manager Gerald Caton met when he started working for the city in 1989. "What makes Downey great is that we have people who care," Caton said. "Mr. Pridham is an example of someone who thought beyond himself and cared about his community." Since his death, the family has received numerous e-mails from friends and community members offering their condolences. Nikki Pridham, who is now managing her grandfather's e-mail distribution list, said the family plans to send out a regular e-mail to Richard's friends with family updates. "After he died, I realized he had an impact on so many people," said Nikki. "I don't think he realized how much of an impact he had."

********** Published: September 11, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 21